i watched malena last night, and it broke my heart. i found myself tearfully recalling all my sympathy for those other women.

to me, it was a poignant statement on just how deeply dysfunctional the madonna/whore dichotomy is, forcing us into boxes that cause us to hurt ourselves and one another.

[SPOILER ALERT: if malena's a film you think you might wanna see, stop reading now, 'cause i'm gonna give away some key plot elements...]



for a moment, i had doubts that the integration was working, that it was the right thing.

then, i actually received a couple of signs...

the first came from the billboard on a friend's church, saying, "live your resurrection". i almost took a picture.

the other: a spider crawling across my windshield. i have a serious case of arachnophobia, but i know grandmother is trying to guide me out of that fear so she can help me weave the threads of myself together.

all that to say, if you ask for a sign - or even if you don't - keep your eyes open. the universe is always conspiring to bring you what you need. 


oh, henry.

apparently, skip gates is at it again.

having read this in full, i realize i don't have the desire to go fully in on this white supremacy - in the theoretical/academic sense - apologist.

as sista jo so aptly said, "...and this is precisely why they champion him. He tells their version of our story"; a perfect example of what happens when the hunter (or the hunter's minion) writes the history instead of the lion. 

i do, however, wish to point out a few things.
Advocates of reparations for the descendants of those slaves generally ignore this untidy problem of the significant role that Africans played in the trade, choosing to believe the romanticized version that our ancestors were all kidnapped unawares by evil white men, like Kunta Kinte was in “Roots.” The truth, however, is much more complex: slavery was a business, highly organized and lucrative for European buyers and African sellers alike.
right about the business (kinda), wrong about the reparations.

from everything i've ever seen, the common ground in the case for reparations is the disproportionate contribution free slave labor made to the bloated wealth america enjoys today.  that's what we're owed for. period.

to paraphrase another brilliantly obvious twitter observation, africa didn't profit from the slave trade. as with any other capitalist power move, a few elites profited from the slave trade - which ain't the same thing. the maafa initiated a severe brain drain that continues to this day.

most regular african folks just suffered.  just like the enslaved folks here.

moving on...
For many African-Americans, these facts can be difficult to accept. Excuses run the gamut, from “Africans didn’t know how harsh slavery in America was” and “Slavery in Africa was, by comparison, humane” or, in a bizarre version of “The devil made me do it,” “Africans were driven to this only by the unprecedented profits offered by greedy European countries.”

But the sad truth is that the conquest and capture of Africans and their sale to Europeans was one of the main sources of foreign exchange for several African kingdoms for a very long time. Slaves were the main export of the kingdom of Kongo; the Asante Empire in Ghana exported slaves and used the profits to import gold. Queen Njinga, the brilliant 17th-century monarch of the Mbundu, waged wars of resistance against the Portuguese but also conquered polities as far as 500 miles inland and sold her captives to the Portuguese. When Njinga converted to Christianity, she sold African traditional religious leaders into slavery, claiming they had violated her new Christian precepts.

speak for yourself, dude. these facts aren't difficult to accept, they are what they are. for anyone who's studied this history, we know that whitefolks did any and everything in their power to win over whoever they could to feed their machine, and some africans played along.

it's known that slave trading has occurred in africa since the arabs came and conquered colonized spread islam all up and through west africa.  before that, there were inter-ethnic conflicts. everyone who's ever read  chancellor williams understands that it's been eons since there was anything resembling african unity in a social sense, despite the various examples of cultural unity.

however, that slavery was nothing like chattel slavery in the west. typically, slavery was not a permanent condition, did not render you less than human, and did not apply to your children and their children.  enslaved people had a particular set of rights, and harsh masters were sometimes shamed socially.

no matter what these african monarchs and elites may have been allowed to see on a slave ship or when they arrived in europe, it is possible that they had no cultural/psychological grasp of how dehumanizing the systems of black enslavement were in europe and the americas.  it is possible that they literally could not even imagine it, given their life experience.   

but even if i give gates the benefit of the doubt here, the bottom line is that talkin all this trash without even a glance to the equally, er, "complex" history of arabia/islam in west africa is foolish, at best.

oh, i'm sorry. i forgot.  you're just looking to make another drop in the soundbite bucket of "post-racial" america. my bad. 

then there was this gem:
And there were thousands of former slaves who returned to settle Liberia and Sierra Leone. The Middle Passage, in other words, was sometimes a two-way street. Under these circumstances, it is difficult to claim that Africans were ignorant or innocent [emphasis added].

skip, sweetheart? the middle passage was never, ever a two way street. it was a one-way ticket to hell. whether that hell was reached through "willingly" (think of the social/economic/psychic pressures here...) relinquishing one's culture, language and spirit to supplant them with european ways, or being stifled in the cargo hold of the henrietta marie.

i see what you were trying to say, but...very poor choice of words.

now, the absurd conclusion:
Fortunately, in President Obama, the child of an African and an American, we finally have a leader who is uniquely positioned to bridge the great reparations divide. He is uniquely placed to publicly attribute responsibility and culpability where they truly belong, to white people and black people, on both sides of the Atlantic, complicit alike in one of the greatest evils in the history of civilization. And reaching that understanding is a vital precursor to any just and lasting agreement on the divisive issue of slavery reparations.

obama is uniquely positioned to understand the insanity of race relations in america. i believe that.  but all that there? you're trying too hard.

it's glaringly obvious that you'd do well to undo some of your monocultural, classist, seemingly "objective" thinking before attempting to speak on this again.  otherwise, you're only convincing the same whitefolks who have used this same, short-sighted argument time and again to deny their role in perpetuating and profiting from a system that traumatized the entire world.

for more on this, check out:
kwame shabazz

brother jesse's blog
the root (by michael gomez)
the griot (by dr. boyce watkins)
nigerian village square (by paul adujie)



i wound up speaking with him...i probably shouldn't be surprised, considering mercury's retrograde.

although it began awkwardly, the timing was actually perfect in its own way. and the ancestors held my hand through the whole thing.

it's nice to see that chapter coming to a close in such an unexpectedly peaceful way. especially when there's so much in front of me.

pushing forward...


*waving hello*

i'm astonished that there seem to be so many folks stopping through here.  some probably on random web searches...but still.

i'd love for y'all to say hi! ...well, unless you're spammers or something.

otherwise, don't be shy. join the conversation!

self love #8

one of my favorite shots of myself...one of the first i took with my first digital camera a few yrs ago.


outlier (cont)

the same facebook page linked to this piece later on. it's written by a yoruba woman and feels a little more comprehensive.

given this beginning, i'm gonna keep my eyes open for stories of the "other" women...

there's definitely more to this.


in today's internet travels, i came across this paper about sexuality in yoruba culture.

i enjoyed reading it, as i always enjoy further insight into yoruba culture in particular and african cultures in general. but i'm almost always left feeling like the odd woman out.*

as i've said before, i completely respect and honor the places and spaces of wife and mother. and the tenets of the yoruba ideal definitely feel more sane than 99% of the messaging we get growing up women of color in america.

but the "am i bad/wrong/weird/tainted??!?" stuff creeps up anyway...like, i wonder if i'd be "proper" even if i were raised within that context...and if i were "proper", i'd probably be very unhappy.

on the other hand, maybe i'd just need a "secret concubine" or two?

see, THOSE are the women i wanna know about...they feel like the ones i can relate to.

but i suppose they don't write papers...

*not that i have shit on gbltqi folks who are practically invisible in these discussions, and whose stories--even in cultures that were inclusive/accepting pre-european contact--have been eradicated, obscured, lied on/about or dismissed as folly.  i'm speaking personally as a cis, straight black woman since the author is outlining "my" ideal sensual life as a student and spiritual devotee of the culture.  hence, i chose not to delve into the problematic aspects of the gender binary, lack of queer/alternative perspective, etc as i've done elsewhere.  

however, i also read a great summation of the 4th annual africa conference on sexual health and rights today that touches on precisely those issues, as well as disability.